Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment -- Matthew 22:36-38.
God requires the training of the mental faculties. He designs that His servants shall possess more intelligence and clearer discernment than the worldling, and He is displeased with those who are too careless or too indolent to become efficient, well-informed workers. The Lord bids us love Him with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and with all the mind. This lays upon us the obligation of developing the intellect to its fullest capacity, that with all the mind we may know and love our Creator.
If placed under the control of His Spirit, the more thoroughly the intellect is cultivated, the more effectively it can be used in the service of God. The uneducated man who is consecrated to God and who longs to bless others can be, and is, used by the Lord in His service. But those who, with the same spirit of consecration, have had the benefit of a thorough education, can do a much more extensive work for Christ. They stand on vantage ground.
The Lord desires us to obtain all the education possible, with the object in view of imparting our knowledge to others. None can know where or how they may be called to labour or to speak for God. Our heavenly Father alone sees what He can make of men. There are before us possibilities which our feeble faith does not discern. Our minds should be so trained that if necessary we can present the truths of His word before the highest earthly authorities in such a way as to glorify His name. We should not let slip even one opportunity of qualifying ourselves intellectually to work for God -- Christ's Object Lessons. pp. 333, 334.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself -- Matthew 22:39.
The great difference between the Jews and the Samaritans was a difference in religious belief, a question as to what constitutes true worship. The Pharisees would say nothing good of the Samaritans, but poured their bitterest curses upon them. So strong was the antipathy between the Jews and the Samaritans that to the Samaritan woman it seemed a strange thing for Christ to ask her for a drink. "How is it," she said, "that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?" "For," adds the evangelist, "the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." John 4:9. And when the Jews were so filled with murderous hatred against Christ that they rose up in the temple to stone Him, they could find no better words by which to express their hatred than, "Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" John 8:48. Yet the priest and Levite neglected the very work the Lord had enjoined on them, leaving a hated and despised Samaritan to minister to one of their own countrymen.
The Samaritan had fulfilled the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," thus showing that he was more righteous than those by whom he was denounced. Risking his own life, he had treated the wounded man as his brother. This Samaritan represents Christ. Our Saviour manifested for us a love that the love of man can never equal. When we were bruised and dying, He had pity upon us. He did not pass us by on the other side, and leave us, helpless and hopeless, to perish. He did not remain in His holy, happy home, where He was beloved by all the heavenly host. He beheld our sore need, He undertook our case, and identified His interests with those of humanity. He died to save His enemies. He prayed for His murderers. Pointing to His own example, He says to His followers, "These things I command you, that ye love one another"; "as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." John 15:17; 13:34 -- Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 380-382.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets -- Matthew 22:40.
The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth "the fruits of the Spirit." Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked. Through the prophet He declared of Himself, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart." Psalm 40:8. And when among men He said, "The Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him." John 8:29.
The apostle Paul clearly presents the relation between faith and the law under the new covenant. He says: "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh"--it could not justify man, because in his sinful nature he could not keep the law--"God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 5:1, 3:31, 8:3, 4.
God's work is the same in all time, although there are different degrees of development and different manifestations of His power, to meet the wants of men in the different ages. Beginning with the first gospel promise, and coming down through the patriarchal and Jewish ages, and even to the present time, there has been a gradual unfolding of the purposes of God in the plan of redemption. The Saviour typified in the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law is the very same that is revealed in the gospel. The clouds that enveloped His divine form have rolled back; the mists and shades have disappeared; and Jesus, the world's Redeemer, stands revealed. He who proclaimed the law from Sinai, and delivered to Moses the precepts of the ritual law, is the same that spoke the Sermon on the Mount. The great principles of love to God, which He set forth as the foundation of the law and the prophets, are only a reiteration of what He had spoken through Moses to the Hebrew people: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Leviticus 19:18. The teacher is the same in both dispensations. God's claims are the same. The principles of His government are the same. For all proceed from Him "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17 -- Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 372, 373.
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. -- Matthew 23:34-36.
Men who understood the messages of the prophets and sought to apply to the life of the nation the principles therein set forth. These were men who "had understanding of the times" and who knew "what Israel ought to do" (1 Chron. 12:32) in the light of revealed truth. For the meaning of "wisdom" in contradistinction to "understanding" and "knowledge" see on Prov. 1:2. "Wise men" were safe counsellors, prudent men whose leadership could be trusted. They were not "blind" leaders like the scribes and Pharisees.
Stephen fell to satisfy the lust of the scribes and Pharisees for the blood of those who spoke for God (Acts 7:59). It was Jewish spite that led to Paul's rearrest and his execution (see 2 Tim. 4:6-8). It should be noted that crucifixion was a Roman, not a Jewish, mode of execution.
This does not mean that the men of Christ's generation were to be punished for the misdeeds of their fathers, for the Scriptures teach specifically that no man is punished for the sins of another (see Eze. 18:2-30; cf. Ex. 32:33). But their rejection of Jesus and His teachings made their guilt greater than that of any previous generation.
Doubtless Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the high priest, who was stoned to death in the courts of the Temple upon orders from King Josh, who reigned from 835 to 796 b.c. (2 Chron. 24:20-22; see Vol. II, p. 83). Numerous references in later Jewish literature to this murder leave no doubt that it made a profound impression upon the thinking of the nation. In Hebrew Bibles the books of Chronicles appear as the last books of Scripture, in the same position occupied by Malachi in our English Bibles (see Vol. I, p. 37). On the plausible assumption that Jesus named Abel and Zechariah because, according to the order of books in Hebrew Bibles, they represent the first and the last recorded martyrs, most scholars conclude that the Jewish order of books placing Chronicles last existed at least as early as the time of Jesus.
Zechariah the son of Jehoiada (2 Chron. 24:20-22) is the only person by this name mentioned in Scripture as having been slain thus (see DA 619). There is no information concerning Zechariah, son of Breech (Zech. 1:1), dying a violent death. The same may be said of "Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah" of Isa. 8:2. It has been suggested that Jesus did not identify Zechariah as the "son of Barachias," but that these words were added by a later scribe who, as he wrote, had in mind either the prophet Zechariah or the Zechariah of Isa. 8:2. It is worthy of note that in the parallel statement of Luke 11:51 Zacharias is not identified as a "son of Barachias."
Jesus here clearly refers to the "generation" of people then living, His Jewish contemporaries. In the following chapter He makes plain the fate to which He here refers-the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the armies of Rome in a.d. 70 (see Matt. 24:15-20; cf. Luke 21:20-24). Compare also Matt. 24:34; Luke 11:50 -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, [Matthew 23:34-36].
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come
-- Matthew 24:14.
Not upon the ordained minister only rests the responsibility of going forth to fulfil this commission. Everyone who has received Christ is called to work for the salvation of his fellow men. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come." Revelation 22:17. The charge to give this invitation includes the entire church. Everyone who has heard the invitation is to echo the message from hill and valley, saying, "Come."
It is fatal mistake to suppose that the work of soul-saving depends alone upon the ministry. The humble, consecrated believer upon whom the Master of the vineyard places a burden for souls is to be given encouragement by the men upon whom the Lord has laid larger responsibilities. Those who stand as leaders in the church of God are to realise that the Saviour's commission is given to all who believe in His name. God will send forth into His vineyard many who have not been dedicated to the ministry by the laying on of hands.
Hundreds, yea, thousands, who have heard the message of salvation are still idlers in the market place, when they might be engaged in some line of active service. To these Christ is saying, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" and He adds, "Go ye also into the vineyard." Matthew 20:6, 7. Why is it that many more do not respond to the call? Is it because they think themselves excused in that they do not stand in the pulpit? Let them understand that there is a large work to be done outside the pulpit by thousands of consecrated lay members -- Acts of the Apostles, pp. 110, 111.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: -- Matthew 28:18, 19.
We can enlighten the people only through the power of God. The canvassers must keep their own souls in living connection with God. They should labour praying that God will open the way, and prepare hearts to receive the message He sends them. It is not the ability of the agent or worker, but it is the Spirit of God moving upon the heart that will give true success.
To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. . . . From every temptation and every trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience.
Those in the darkness of error are the purchase of the blood of Christ. They are the fruit of His suffering, and they are to be laboured for. Let our canvassers know that it is for the advancement of Christ's kingdom that they are labouring. He will teach them as they go forth to their God-appointed work, to warn the world of a soon-coming judgement. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, the evangelist's work will not, cannot, be without fruit. Think of the interest that the Father and the Son have in this work. As the Father loves the Son, so the Son loves those that are His,--those who work as He worked to save perishing souls. None need feel that they are powerless; for Christ declares, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." He has promised that He will give this power to His workers. His power is to become their power.
They are to link their souls with God. Christ desires all to enjoy the wealth of His grace, which is beyond all computation. It is limitless, exhaustless. It is ours by eternal covenant, if we will be workers together with God. It is ours if we will unite with Him to bring many sons and daughters to God -- Colporteur Ministry, pp. 107-109.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. -- Matthew 28:20.
The Lord sends His ministers to hold forth the word of life, to preach, not "philosophy and vain deceit," nor "science falsely so called," but the gospel, "the power of God unto salvation."[2 COL. 2:8; 1 TIM. 6:20; ROM. 1:16.] "I charge thee therefore," Paul wrote to Timothy, "before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."[3 2 TIM. 4:1-5.] In this charge every minister has his work outlined,--a work that he can do only through the fulfilment of the promise that Jesus gave to His disciples, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end."[4 MATT. 28:20.]
Ministers of the gospel, God's messengers to their fellow-men, should never lose sight of their mission and their responsibilities. If they lose their connection with heaven, they are in greater danger than others, and can exert a stronger influence for wrong. Satan watches them continually, waiting for some weakness to develop, through which he may make a successful attack upon them. And how he triumphs when he succeeds! for an ambassador for Christ, off his guard, allows the great adversary to secure many souls to himself -- Gospel Workers, pp. 16, 17.
But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. -- Mark 10:43-45.
In His life and lessons Christ has given a perfect exemplification of the unselfish ministry which has its origin in God. God does not live for Himself. By creating the world, and by upholding all things, He is constantly ministering to others. "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45. This ideal of ministry the Father committed to His Son. Jesus was given to stand at the head of humanity, by His example to teach what it means to minister. His whole life was under a law of service. He served all, ministered to all.
Again and again Jesus tried to establish his principle among His disciples. When James and John made their request for pre-eminence, He said, "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:26-28.
Since His ascension Christ has carried forward His work on the earth by chosen ambassadors, through whom He speaks to the children of men and ministers to their needs. The great Head of the church superintends His work through the instrumentality of men ordained by God to act as His representatives.
The position of those who have been called of God to labour in word and doctrine for the upbuilding of His church, is one of grave responsibility. In Christ's stead they are to beseech men and women to be reconciled to God, and they can fulfil their mission only as they receive wisdom and power from above -- Acts of the Apostles, pp. 359, 360.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. -- Luke 4:18, 19.
Not all the books written can serve the purpose of a holy life. "'Learn of Me'," said the Great Teacher," "'take My yoke upon you,' learn My meekness and lowliness." Your intellectual pride will not aid you in communicating with souls that are perishing for want of the bread of life. In your study of these books you are allowing them to take the place of the practical lessons you should be learning from Christ. With the results of this study the people are not fed. Very little of the research which is so wearying to the mind furnishes that which will help one to be a successful labourer for souls.
The Saviour came "to preach the gospel to the poor." Luke 4:18. In His teaching He used the simplest terms and the plainest symbols. And it is said that "the common people heard Him gladly." Mark 12:37. Those who are seeking to do His work for this time need a deeper insight into the lessons He has given.
The words of the living God are the highest of all education. Those who minister to the people need to eat of the bread of life. This will give them spiritual strength; then they will be prepared to minister to all classes of people -- Ministry of healing, pp. 442, 443.
And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent -- Luke 4:43.
Early in the morning, Peter and his companions came to Jesus, saying that already the people of Capernaum were seeking Him. The disciples had been bitterly disappointed at the reception which Christ had met hitherto. The authorities at Jerusalem were seeking to murder Him; even His own townsmen had tried to take His life; but at Capernaum He was welcomed with joyful enthusiasm, and the hopes of the disciples kindled anew. It might be that among the liberty-loving Galileans were to be found the supporters of the new kingdom. But with surprise they heard Christ's words, "I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent."
In the excitement which then pervaded Capernaum, there was danger that the object of His mission would be lost sight of. Jesus was not satisfied to attract attention to Himself merely as a wonder worker or a healer of physical diseases. He was seeking to draw men to Him as their Saviour. While the people were eager to believe that He had come as a king, to establish an earthly reign, He desired to turn their minds away from the earthly to the spiritual. Mere worldly success would interfere with His work.
And the wonder of the careless crowd jarred upon His spirit. In His life no self-assertion mingled. The homage which the world gives to position, or wealth, or talent, was foreign to the Son of man. None of the means that men employ to win allegiance or command homage did Jesus use. Centuries before His birth, it had been prophesied of Him, "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the dimly burning flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgement unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgement in the earth." Isa. 42:2-4, margin -- Desire of Ages, pp. 260, 261.